Quarantine and Read: To Have and To Hoax by Martha Waters

I’m not big into historical fiction, barring the period of my life where Outlander and any similar romance took over my TBR, but the blurb for To Have and to Hoax called out to me, so I figured I would give it a try. I was not disappointed. A rom-com set in Regency England with a stubborn woman and a man who’s into that? Yes, please.

In Regency England, marriage for love doesn’t happen all too often, but after a chance encounter on a balcony, Lady Violet Grey and Lord James Audley decide to marry and live happily ever after. Except a year into their marriage, they have the fight to end all fights and haven’t spoken since…Cut to four years later, and that’s where we enter this story. What was once a passionate marriage has devolved into two people living in a rather large house with plenty of servants, so they don’t even have to see each other if they don’t want to. Honestly, it’s my quarantine dream after a month being stuck in a cozy (aka SMALL) two-bedroom house with my boyfriend. But I digress.

Violet and James have begrudgingly gotten used to their separate lives, but all that changes when Violet gets a letter stating the James has been thrown from his horse at their country estate (another thing I’d like to have during quarantine…) and hasn’t woken up since. She rushes across the country only to run into him and his pals halfway there having a pint at a tavern, happy as you please. Typical. Now, it’s time to teach James a lesson. What ensues is a battle of the sexes unlike any you’ve ever seen before. Spouse against spouse, wanting nothing more than to tear each other’s clothes off, but instead keep punishing each other.

If you’re thinking there’s a lot of banter and flirtation, you’d be right.

With a less adept writer, this could be the kind of book that would annoy me beyond reason – childish main characters, a rift that could be fixed with a single conversation, endless drama – but somehow, it works. And it works well. Most of that is due to the fact that both Violet and James know they’re being idiots. They’re just too wrapped up in the game to want to stop.

Violet and James are both delightful, whilst being idiots. I love a woman who’s wickedly smart in a time where she has to hide it; and a man who finds that attractive, not tedious. Their sexual tension was a current running through the story, even – no, especially – in times of anger. Their physical relationship is hot. Even with all the neckties and chemises.

Martha Waters proves in To Have and To Hoax that she’s a writer to watch. There are plenty of hints throughout the story, of more books to come. I, for one, am crossing my fingers that those books happen. I’m here for more regency men being taken down a peg by witty ladies who are more than capable to do so.

Buy To Have and To Hoax Here

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